The DOLMEN of SANTOCHE

tourism, archeology, history and legend

by Gérard Blanc


 

click on picture to enlarge it

The clearing of dolmen at the place named La Châtre in Santoche

.....The remains of the dolmen can be seen in a clearing situated on a hill away from the village of Santoche (near Clerval). It is easy to reach it by a way suitable for cars (direction Soye) or by a footpath drawn across the forest. Follow the arrows from the village.
....On the place, a board gives you all the necessary informations. The gravestones of the monument are knocked down and broken, but it is the dolmen in the best state of preservation in Franche-Comté.
...A meticulous archeological excavation in 1969 let this gravestone and its stoned esplanade partially appear.
...This place was classified as a historical monument since 1974. It belongs to the commune of Santoche.

Visit the dolmen of Santoche

A 5 thousand years old monument

.....The dolmen of Santoche is one of the eighteen megaliths of this kind discovered to this day in France : it is the oldest monument in the departement of Doubs.

.....Originally it was a "family vault" or a "collective vault" where dead people were put down (or buried), and it was perhaps a place of worship.
....The enormous gravestone sheltered a rectangular room of 1,80 meter by 1,90 meter where the archeologs have found the remains of at least 22 persons and small things layed out near the corpses.

....One of the vertical stones of the dolmen were perforated by a circular hole (porthole) with a diameter about 40 cm


Hypothetical reconstruction of the dolmen of Santoche

This is a page of the web personal site of Gérard Blanc, "le Portail de Clerval" http://perso.wanadoo.fr/clerval

A village of the Neolithic

....The presence of this grave indicates a human community, making perhaps a village, lived in the immediate neighbourhood. The dolmen was used as a tomb for nearly one thousand years until the bronze age.
....In the gallo-roman period the room of the dolmen was used as a temporary shelter for the shepherds, the hunters and the travellers. Later on, the covering gravestones were willingly knocked down and broken, and the site covered with a pile of stones.

....Among the archeological things gathered in 1969 in the excavation of the dolmen were : tips of arrows, blades, silex scrapes, a pin-head made of bone, broken pieces of ceramic vases. These daily life things are pointing out the people who built the megaliths were already in an advanced stage of civilization.
Thes men who lived in the middle neolithic age owned weapons, ornaments, very elaborated tools, made of stone, wood or bone. They also began to know how to make little things of bronze. They lived from a little cultivation and breeding.

This is a page of the web personal site of Gérard Blanc, "le Portail de Clerval" http://perso.wanadoo.fr/clerval

LEGENDS AND SUPERSTITIONS

.....It was still believed, a hundred years ago, that dolmens were altars where gallic druids practised human sacrifices (see the next picture). Today everyone knows the dolmen were tombs which existed several thousand years before the Gallics.

.....In the seventeenth century, the dolmen of Santoche was called "the wedding stone ". The tradition wanted that on wedding days, the newly married couples walked in bridal procession to the dolmen.

The bride had then to climb up on one of the stones, and stand on one foot. All the guests had to kiss her. If this custom was not respected, it was said the couple could not be happy.
.........Other less innocent rituals took place on the stones of the dolmen on full moon nights. It was told that priests, angry with those pagan practises, ordered these stones to be broken and knocked down.
Nowadays, it still happens that odd pilgrins come and give themselves up to strange nocturnal ceremonials. It is told too that the magnetizers of the surroundings come to reinforce theire powers and resource themselves on the stones of the dolmen.

Textes et conception de cette page : Gérard Blanc Association du Vieux Clerval 2003

Translation in english : Claude Rougeot



Miniature model showing an inhumation ceremony in the dolmen of Santoche,5000 years ago (Museum of Montbéliard)
Click on picture to enlarge it !

Historic notices about Clerval

Pages and articles about village of Santoche

Visit the"Portail de Clerval", personal web site devoted to the village of Clerval (France)
and its neighbourhood (more than 500 pages, 1000 photos)
Click here !

Visitez le PORTAIL DE CLERVAL (500 pages, 1000 photos), site perso de Gérard Blanc
consacré au village de Clerval (Doubs) et ses environs
Cliquez ici !